Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: OLB Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: With the Steelers’ somewhat surprising decision to release veteran outside linebacker Genard Avery, who was widely projected to make the 53-man roster, that appears to benefit Hamilcar Rashed Jr., who reported took first-team snaps in practice on Tuesday with Alex Highsmith remaining out or limited with a rib injury.
I still don’t know why the Steelers released Genard Avery, as I discussed earlier today, but arguably the best-case scenario as far as in-roster options go is that it indicates the team is really happy with what they have seen from Hamilcar Rashed Jr., whom they claimed off waivers only on August 11 from the New York Jets.
A 2021 college free agent out of Oregon State, Rashed spent the 2021 season on the Jets’ practice squad, and was retained on a Reserve/Future contract by the team, where he remained until he was waived earlier this month, at which point he was promptly claimed by the Steelers.
He’s picked up four tackles and a sack during two preseason games since joining Pittsburgh’s roster, seeing a total of 42 defensive snaps and 16 on special teams, the latter increasing from five snaps to 11 between the first and second games.
With Alex Highsmith still nursing a rib injury, it was reported that it was Rashed taking first-team reps in the Steelers’ practice session yesterday across from T.J. Watt. Avery started next to Watt in the first preseason game. On Saturday, he did not check into the game until midway through the third quarter, with Derrek Tuszka playing ahead of him.
Tuszka still profiles to be ahead of him, presumably, having previously been talked about as potentially the third outside linebacker, but taking first-team snaps is obviously a good sign as it concerns his potential roster hopes.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed. For all we know, Avery could loop back and be on the 53-man roster. This could simply be Mike Tomlin wanting to get a better look at Rashed before they part ways with him, potentially auditioning for a roster spot. But he’s got some intriguing traits with ideal size for the position.